If you have a type of heart disease or defect that cannot be treated with less invasive means, a heart transplant or cardiac assist device may provide a new chance at life. The two most common reasons for these surgeries are cardiomyopathy, a disease that causes weakening and stiffening of the heart muscle, and coronary heart disease, a condition caused by blockages or narrowing of the blood vessels leading to the heart.
During a heart transplant, the surgeon removes the diseased heart and replaces it with a healthy heart provided by a donor and carefully matched to your body. This new organ then takes over pumping blood the way a normal heart would. For most patients, a heart transplant offers a longer, higher-quality life than they ever thought possible.
Another option for some patients is a ventricular assist device, sometimes called a cardiac assist device. This implanted mechanical device works with your existing heart to help it pump blood correctly. Sometimes, this may work as a short-term solution while you await a heart transplant. In others who are not good candidates for a transplant, it can sometimes work as a long-term treatment. Surgeons in the Sutter Health network remain on the cutting edge of this technology, using a number of different ventricular assist systems to best match your medical need.
Of course, any heart device or transplant operation is a major procedure that requires careful consideration. For the past 30 years, these surgeries have been performed successfully at Sutter’s two comprehensive transplant centers, Sutter Medical Center in Sacramento and California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco. These programs have earned national accolades by groups including the United Network for Organ Sharing and the Leapfrog Group, a consortium of Fortune 500 companies and other large healthcare purchasers.
Our transplant teams guide you and your family through every step of the process, from preparation to recovery. From the minute you enter our program, you’ll receive comprehensive services including:
- Diagnostic testing to assess the state of your heart and overall health.
- Life-sustaining treatments, therapies or monitoring services while you await surgery.
- Education and support services for you and your family members.
- 24-hour post-surgical care.
- Cardiac rehabilitation to get you safely moving again.
Most importantly, you’ll receive the very highest quality surgical care provided by experienced transplant surgeons and a large team of cardiovascular experts. Many of these professionals are involved in ongoing cardiovascular research — including clinical trials for ventricular assist devices and heart transplantation — as part of our world-renowned research institutes. This guarantees that you’ll always have access to the most cutting edge equipment and techniques.